Thursday, 1 November 2012

CD Review: On Through The Night, by Def Leppard (1980)

Propelled by a large dose of anticipatory hype and with sights set firmly on breaking the United States market, Sheffield's Def Leppard unleash their first album. On Through The Night is an underwhelming effort, Def Leppard still lacking the polish, production values, and inspiration that will catapult them into super stardom with Pyromania, two albums later.

Consisting mostly of re-recorded demos that had earned the band plenty of buzz, On Through The Night was theoretically part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal erupting out of the UK in 1980, but Def Leppard had already decided to un-British themselves, recognizing the greater richer to be had with a US-focused sound.

With blatant brown-nosing on tracks like Hello America and the oh-so-fake "live" audience salute at the end of Rocks Off, the band unapologetically sets out to conquer America with a poppy metal sound. Considering what Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, and of course Black Sabbath were producing in 1980, On Through The Night was mush more of a signpost on the way to Bon Jovi's radio friendly light metal than a companion to Britain's other metal exports.

But without the rich and layered sound that Robert John "Mutt" Lange would later bring to the band, and having to make do with the pedestrian talent of Tom Allom behind the controls, On Through The Night struggles to register. Joe Elliott's vocals often sound uncomfortably forced, the songwriting is purely basic, the solos de-fanged, and the level of energy toned down in favour of a cuddly feel.

Despite all that, On Through The Night never completely loses the plot. The band is nothing if not dedicated to success, and the earnest level of endeavour in working with the available tools and talent is evident. Deep into the album that large truck on the cover finally lurches forward with Wasted, the aforementioned Rocks Off and It Don't Matter hinting at the hard core that the band will get better at revealing on future albums.

On Through The Night ventures forth with a plan, but on this initial leg of the journey, Def Leppard's headlights are still a bit dim.


Steve Clark - Guitar
Rick Savage - Bass
Pete Willis - Guitar
Rick Allen - Drums
Joe Elliott - Vocals

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Rock Brigade - 7
2. Hello America - 7
3. Sorrow Is A Woman - 7
4. It Could Be You - 7
5. Satellite - 7
6. When The Walls Come Tumbling Down - 7
7. Wasted - 8
8. Rocks Off - 9
9. It Don't Matter - 8
10. Answer To The Master - 7
11. Overture - 7

Average: 7.36

Produced by Tom Allom.
Engineered by Louis Austin and Dick Plant.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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